The government has condemned the ‘Punish a Muslim Day’ hate mail campaign during an urgent question in the House of Commons.
Victoria Atkins MP, a Home Office minister, said the letters are part of an ongoing police investigation but the Government condemned the contents of the letter as ‘clearly abhorrent with no place in decent society’. She added that the government takes Islamophobia and hate crime extremely seriously, in response to the question tabled by Yasmin Qureshi, Labour MP for Bolton South East.
The minister then added: “This government wants to give a strong message of support to Muslim people across the United Kingdom. We are committed to their safety and their security.”
She called on Muslims to report this letter or similar communications to the police “where they will be treated with the utmost seriousness and action will be taken.”
The minister confirmed that the government will refresh its Hate Crime Action Plan this year.
Shadow Policing Minister Lou Haigh responded, saying the letters were “an incitement to violence and it cannot go unpunished”.
Meanwhile, Counter Terrorism Policing North East continues to coordinate the investigation at present with the police forces where members of the public have come forward, with reports indicating that the letters have been distributed in West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and London.
South Wales Police have contacted their counter-terror unit after news reports suggested that the letters had been distributed in Cardiff.
Detective Chief Superintendent Martin Snowden, Head of Counter Terrorism Policing North East said in an updated statement: “We take religious hatred extremely seriously and my officers will be carrying out a full and thorough investigation in response to these reports.”
Assistant Chief Constable Angela Williams of West Yorkshire Police, said: “We are aware of a number of reports of potentially malicious communications having been sent to individuals in West Yorkshire and across the UK.
“What I want to do is to reassure the communities of West Yorkshire that these communications are being taken extremely seriously. We understand that they may have caused concern and upset to people, especially the more vulnerable members of society.
“We are working with the communities we serve to reassure residents that, as always, everything possible is being done to ensure their safety and to catch the person or persons responsible for this.”
This follows an earlier statement released by South Yorkshire Police.
Tell MAMA appeared on Victoria Live this morning to discuss the hate mail campaign.
Anti-Muslim letters: 'There is some fear, but we see this for what it is – it's a group of individuals trying to be malicious and we won't fall into that trap.' – @TellMamaUK pic.twitter.com/dYiEB1Mf09
— Victoria Derbyshire (@VictoriaLIVE) March 12, 2018
Politicians from across the political divide have condemned the letters. Communities Minister Lord Bourne called the campaign “a racist, illegal dangerous attempt to divide us.”
Deplore this hateful,sickening Punish a Muslim day attempt to divide us and threaten our way of life. Our country and all our diverse united people will see this dreadful,gut wrenching gutter inhabiting campaign for what it is – a racist, illegal dangerous attempt to divide us.
— Lord Nick Bourne (@lordnickbourne) March 11, 2018
Sajid Javid, the Secretary of State tweeted: “Let me be clear, British Muslims should be able to live without fear of abuse and attack and we will do everything in our power to tackle those who spread hate.”
Disturbing reports of Islamophobic letters in the #Midlands – let me be clear, British Muslims should be able to live without fear of abuse and attack and we will do everything in our power to tackle those who spread hate
— Sajid Javid (@sajidjavid) March 11, 2018
Appalled by these vile & illegal islamophobic threats & incitement. Agree w Yasmin, police must take this very seriously https://t.co/ijGXKGstDo
— Yvette Cooper (@YvetteCooperMP) March 10, 2018
These blatantly racist letters stoke fear and hatred and the people that sent them will be found. If any constituent has received a letter, or is concerned contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or if you'd rather, contact @TellMamaUK https://t.co/cILvzkJXqb
— Tracy Brabin MP (@TracyBrabin) March 10, 2018
The HM Courts & Tribunals Service has also reported the contents of the letter after their details were maliciously used in the letter.
We’re aware of a deeply offensive letter circulating that misuses our contact details. It’s not a HMCTS letter – it’s full of hatred & contradicts all we stand for. We’ve reported it to the Police who are investigating. If you’ve been targeted, please call 101.
— HMCTS (@HMCTSgovuk) March 12, 2018
The Labour MP Mohammad Yasin was targeted in a hate mail campaign after a suspicious package, which the Huff Post believed to non-toxic liquid, was opened by staff, who were later taken to hospital as a precaution, with some fearing it may be connected to the ‘Punish a Muslim Day’ campaign but has not been verified.
As with our previous update, We urge anyone who has received this letter to report to us in confidence or to ring the non-emergency 101 number.
You can report online via True Vision online.
What to do if you receive a copy of the letter: It is essential that all letters and envelopes are kept and handled minimally to preserve evidence for the police to investigate.
You can get advice through our confidential and free helpline on 0800 456 1226. Or through our free iOS or Android apps. Report through our online form. Or contact us via WhatsApp on 0734 184 6086.
Anyone with any information about the individual, or individuals, responsible can call police in confidence on 0800 789 321.